An Elegantly Bajan Barbados

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Elegant Hotels offers a unique collection of five luxury hotels beautifully situated along stunning beaches on the west and south coasts of sun-soaked Barbados. With 99% of the on-island staff hailing from Barbados, Elegant Hotels created an exclusive “Elegantly Bajan” program where they feature the island’s true culture and cuisine.

Crystal Cove is located on the west coast of Barbados, where the waves are gentle and beaches pristine. The boutique resort welcomes guests into its open lobby, adorned in graceful white tones. Bohemian style building with hues of pink and blue add Mediterranean architectural elements to the backdrop. Lush gardens filled with landscaped herbs, frangipani and bougainvillea surround the 88 contemporary rooms and suites, each equipped with a private patio or balcony. Although the resort is not small, it feels intimate and personal.

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As the name suggests, there is a man made cove right under the lobby, which houses a groovy looking bar. A cascading waterfall suggests guests jump into the refreshing swimming pool and take a seat at one of the stools at the swim up bar. There are three freshwater lagoon-style swimming pools on the property, each offering a spectacular view of the white sandy beach and turquoise blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Our evening at Crystal Cove Resort starts with a manager’s cocktail party (held weekly) where we mingle with the staff and other guests. All of the hotel’s staff members individually introduce themselves and offer their services to make our stay comfortable. We sip on champagne, and nibble on samosas and fish cakes at the resort’s elevated patio, overlooking a beautiful sunset on the sea. We browse through paintings, crafts and souvenirs displayed by few local artists.

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Speaking with the hotel’s management, I get the impression that they prize their warm Bajan hospitality and superior service. The staff gets to know your name, notes your preferences, pays attention to small details, and makes a sincere effort to meet any reasonable demand.

For dinner, we head to Drifters Restaurant at the beach. Here, the vibe of Oistins Fish Fry (a popular island Friday night tradition) is recreated. Delicacies include granny’s fish cakes with Mount Gay Rum cocktail sauce, fried flying fish with Bajan pepper sauce, grilled sweet potato, fried plantain, calypso rice and pumpkin and ginger soup. A live DJ takes us late into the night, playing popular tunes, ranging from calypso to reggae, to American 80’s and everything in between.

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The following day, we head out to the capital city of Bridgetown (located only 15 minutes away) for a Heritage Tour, arranged especially for the hotel guests. This daylong tour takes us through historic neighborhoods and important sites such as the Mount Gay Visitor Centre, Kensington Oval, St. Mary’s Church, Parliament Buildings, Garrison Savannah and the Prime Minister’s Office. Bridgetown’s harbor dotted with fishing boats, shops and restaurants, makes for a romantic stroll. We have some down time at one of Barbados’ most beautiful beaches, Brown’s Beach, to snorkel, swim and relax.

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Music is an essential part of Bajan tradition, and shares its roots with other Caribbean islands such as Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. While there is some form of live music at the hotel every night, on Heritage Night, Crystal Cove showcases a Caribbean cabaret with dancers wearing carnival costumes and performing a range of dances and feats, including fire eating and limbo dancing, accompanied by the Tuk Band and the famous Calypso King. We enjoy a glimpse of what Crop Over (Barbados carnival held in August) fiesta would be like, while we sip on coconut and rum cocktails, and taste more authentic dishes from around the Caribbean. Aspiring musicians can also get up and join the free steel pan lessons offered on site.

As a British colony, the national sport of Barbados is cricket and it is common to see practices and test matches going on as you drive along the road. However, Road Tennis is the little known national sport of Barbados, native to the island. It involves a ‘skinned’ tennis ball, a stretch of road for a court and wooden paddles to bat the ball between two players. There is a hands-on lesson across the street from the Crystal Cove for players of all ages.

After a fun and invigorating game of road tennis, we settle down for Rum Shop Initiation experience. Rum is an important part of the island’s economy and its culture. It is said there is a rum shop on every corner of Barbados and that liming (Bajan slang for relaxing) at a local village rum shop is an essential part of the Bajan experience. We learn a few rum shop games such as dominos, sample rum shop snacks including corn beef and biscuits, as well as cheese cutters made with local salt bread, and sample different flavors of local rum.

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The rest of the afternoon, we avail the benefits of the complimentary water sports offered as part of the all-inclusive experience. Beach ambassadors and lifeguards facilitate lessons in windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, banana boating and waterskiing. Kids under 12 years of age are whisked off to the Flying Fish Kids Club where they do supervised water activities, play Wii, pool and air hockey, and watch movies late into the evening.

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While many visitors to Barbados chose to stay at all-inclusive resorts and take little time to venture outside, guests of Elegant Hotels can get a peek into the island life, while being pamper in luxury. Owned and run by the locals, each of Elegant Hotel’s properties is conducive to enjoying an authentic Bajan holiday, while learning the culture and supporting the local economy.

Southern Culinary Traditions Return to the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort

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Delegal Dining Room at King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort
201 Arnold Road
St. Simons Island, GA, 31522
912- 638-3631
www.kingandprince.com

Price: $$

After a visit to the Delegal Dining Room at the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, it is easy to see that executive chef Jeff Kaplan has made it his mission to bring “Southern” back to the South. Diners are introducing the finest Georgia products – pecans, peaches, shrimp, blue crabs and Vidalia onions on the menus of the restaurants located at the acclaimed resort in Saint Simons Island, Ga. Kaplan’s culinary experience of more than 25 years from New York to Miami takes hold of this charming oceanfront historic hotel with a quaint island setting.

Kaplan believes in cooking with local ingredients and supporting local farmers and businesses. His initiative to bring fresh and seasonal ingredients to the island has completely transformed the menu at the resort. He personally visits the Saint Simons Island Farmer’s Market and picks up produce to cook with, then orchestrates them into a Southern culinary symphony. The dishes are enhanced by locally sourced honey from the Savannah Bee Company, peaches from Lane Southern Orchards, and wild Georgia shrimp from City Market Seafood.

There are two great ways to sample the very best of what the chef has to offer while visiting the island. At $34.95 per person, the Friday night seafood buffet served at the King and Prince’s Delegal Dining Room makes you feel like you have stepped back in time and are a special guest at a royal banquet. The elegant dining room fitted with English colonial-style chandeliers, fireplace and wall paintings also features a series of eleven original stained glass panoramas depicting scenes from Saint Simons’ rich history. The resort was first constructed in 1935 and many of the original fixtures are still intact.

On the menu is the best of coastal Georgia. All-you-can-eat steamed crab legs, chilled shrimp, sole with peach butter, fried oysters and shrimp, oysters on the half shell, smoked salmon, and fried catfish are only a few of the entrée selections. Pair them with southern-style cornbread, steamed green beans, mashed potatoes and Georgia grown fresh watermelon, for the most scrumptious Southern seafood dinner you may ever have. You certainly can’t leave the South without tasting some good old-fashioned finger-licking  key lime pie, pecan pie and bread pudding, which are key instruments in the chef’s plan to bring back traditions.

Even though the buffet has a varied selection of items, every single dish is carefully prepared and paired with the right sauces and seasonings. It is also comforting to see that the moisture and temperature of the chafing dishes are regulated so that the food tastes like it just came out of the kitchen.

The second not-to-miss dining experience is the Southern Charm Sunday Brunch. If you like Southern cuisine, you are in for a treat of a lifetime. The buffet brunch offers many of the favorites including buttermilk fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, fried okra, biscuits and gravy, Low Country shrimp and grits, hickory smoked BBQ ribs, Cajun meatloaf, lemon pepper grouper, pot roast, collard greens, sweet potato soufflé, peach crisp, carrot cake and more.

Take mama’s home cooking and multiply it by a factor of 10. The selections are endless and the flavors comforting. The Sunday brunch costs $21.95 per person and is served from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. with a calming backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

Holiday Memories at Gaylord Opryland

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Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tenn., is Disneyland, a Caribbean cruise and a spectacular resort and convention center all rolled into one. It is the perfect destination for the entire family looking for a little break during the holidays. Nine acres of botanical gardens, 50,000 tropical plants, a quarter mile-long indoor river and cascading waterfalls are all maintained inside the giant atriums at 72 degrees year round. That means you can escape the chill of winter as soon as you check in.

 

The tropical temperature controlled resort will still give you the authentic thrills of the holiday season. In fact, Gaylord Opryland Resort’s “A Country Christmas” was named as one of the “Ten Great Places to Catch up with Santa” by USA Today; the hotel was named “The Most Christmassy Hotel in the Nation” by the Travel Channel’s Extreme Christmas; “One of the top 10 places to spend Christmas in the world by Travel + Leisure and a “Nashville treasure” by Southern Living.

 

With more than two million twinkling lights, horse-drawn carriage rides, acres of stunning decorations and exclusive holiday events and attractions, Gaylord Opryland offers many activities to capture the minds of the young and the old.

 

“A Country Christmas” runs from November 15, 2012 through January 1, 2013 and puts on a dozen shows and attractions including Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas Dinner and Show; The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes; ICE!, featuring DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek the Halls (carved from 2 million pounds of ice); Holly Jolly Town Square; Treasures for the Holidays craft show and more.

 

The little ones can have interactive experiences starring favorite characters from DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. films such as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. The Christmassy DreamWorks Experience features the resort’s popular ShrekFeast Interactive Character Meal, “Character Passport” meet and greets, Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating, DreamWorks-themed scavenger hunt and Holiday Shrektacular street party. Now, that’s a lot more fun than unwrapping toys!

 

The festivities continue with Holly Jolly Town Square, a step back in time to a nostalgic 1950’s town square, complete with shops from Main Street, a holiday kids’ train, story time with Mrs. Claus at the library and live entertainment.

 

For adults, there are amazing restaurants, a spa, a pool, shopping and concerts. Couples can enjoy a romantic afternoon strolling along the shops at the Italian-style Magnolia pavilion, taking a boat ride down the river or watching the water fountains dance to a sound and light show at the Delta Atrium at night. Being home to country music, a number of live performances and entertainment are held daily at Opryland. Really, there is no need to leave the premises.

 

Deciding where to dine may be more difficult than you had originally thought. Twenty restaurants offer everything from British pub, Italian, Mexican, sushi and contemporary fast food to an upscale steakhouse that has its own sommelier and maître fromager. The food is prepared by some of the best chefs in the country and the service is exceptional.

 

Gaylord Opryland offers the most captivating holiday resort entertainment, decor and food in America, and the perfect venue to make family memories this season.